Depression, Ataraxia, and the Puzzle of the Pig
Dr Lea Salje, University of Leeds
The puzzle of the pig is about the value of affective, or ‘feeling’ states. One way of putting it asks: what would be the impact of eliminating, or anyway substantially reducing, our affective states? In this talk I consider two conditions that seem to play out the answer to this question in very different ways. First, the clinical disorder of depression, that classically presents as a sustained state of blunted affect.
Depression might lead us to think that reduced affect is a bad thing; something valuable is plainly lost. The second is the Epicurean state of ataraxia, in which reduced affect is taken to be the key component of a tranquil mind. Ataraxia might lead us to think that reduced affect is a good thing; something valuable is gained.
Together they make up our puzzle - how can the state of reduced affect seem so horrifying in one case and yet so appealing in the other? This talk develops a (pig-involving) answer to this puzzle.